Existential Social Theory After the Poststructuralist and Communication Turns

Human Studies 25 (2):147-164 (2002)

Martin Matustik
Arizona State University
Thomas Flynn's work on Sartre and Foucault, the first of a two-volume project, offers a unique opportunity for examining an existential theory of history. It occasions rethinking existential-social categories from the vantage point of the poststructuralist turn. And it contributes to developing existential variants of critical theory. The following questions guide me in each of the three above areas. First, how is human history intelligible, given not only our finite sense of ourselves but also claims that we have reached the end of history? Second, with the poststructuralist eclipse of dialectics, can we render existential categories in social terms and vice versa? Third, critics decry grand theorizing even in fallibilist reason, e.g., of Habermas, while others are worried by the normative deficits of poststructuralist nominalism, e.g., of Foucault. Can existential variants of critical social theory, anticipated before Sartre by Marcuse, split the difference?
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Modern Philosophy   Philosophy of the Social Sciences   Political Philosophy   Sociolinguistics
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1015500509943
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